A House of Prayer for All Nations
We are privileged to be living in times when the eyes of the Church are being opened once again to the Jewish roots of our faith and to the elder brother that we have in the Jewish people. For far too long our two communities have been divided, splintered apart by the subversive actions of anti-Semitism and suspicion. But with God’s help we are discovering that our faith communities have more in common than what divides us – that our heritage is from the same root and that we are forever connected in the heart of God’s purpose.
As Gentiles, the God of Israel has invited us in to experience the goodness of His house, which by definition is a house of prayer instituted among the people of Israel. For centuries, since the days of the Levites in the Tabernacle of Moses, the Jewish people have tended the flame of worship and prayer in God’s presence. God’s design was that their adherence to His covenant would open the way for blessing to come to the nations of the world.
Isaiah prophesied of the far-reaching salvation that was to come to the Gentiles, demonstrating that this was part of God’s plan from the very beginning through His people Israel:
“Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants— Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant— even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:6-7
In this amazing passage of scripture, God declares that those from among the “sons of the foreigner” would be welcomed into His house, joined together with His covenant people to lift up joyful sacrifices in His house of prayer. To all those who draw near “to love the name of the Lord,” God says He will bring us to His holy mountain of Zion (Jerusalem) to participate in His Kingdom agenda of worship and prayer to call forth blessing to the world.
Like Isaiah 56, Ephesians 2:12 echoes that before Christ we as Gentiles were foreigners from the covenant, “being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise”. But through Jesus we have received salvation and have been re-connected to the root of our faith. God is creating the “one new man” from Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:15), just as He promised He would do. And it is all tied together with the raising up of His house of prayer in the earth.
So what exactly is a house of prayer for all nations?
A “house” is a place to dwell – and God’s house is made up of His people who together become a dwelling place for Him. As the psalmist David wrote,
“But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3, KJV
So wherever God’s people gather to praise Him together, He promises to be there among them.
Yet there is also a specific physical place that God has set apart for His people to gather as a fulfillment of His Word, and that is the city of Jerusalem. Three times a year the people of Israel would gather in Jerusalem according to God’s command to worship Him there at the temple during the Feasts of the Lord, and every day of the year today we can find worshippers, both Jews and Gentiles, praying and worshipping at the Western Wall where the temple once stood.
As an expression of so much more than a dry mandate, millions of pilgrims from across the globe have found the joy that comes through gathering to pray in Jerusalem, in dozens of different languages. And now, through events like the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, Awake Jerusalem, and the modern celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles which all take place annually, truly we are seeing Isaiah 56 fulfilled in this hour of history, with the participation of the nations of the world.
Not only is God turning the eyes and hearts of Christians from around the world toward the central importance of Israel, but as this takes place He is also releasing worldwide the joy that He spoke of, as we come home spiritually and physically to the house of God centered in Jerusalem.
Now is the time for us as believers to be part of “all nations” prophesied in scripture and to experience the joy that God is releasing among His people in this hour. Praise God for what He is doing and let us advance together as His people during these historic days!